Toyota recalls 1.29 million vehicles for air bags, wipers

Updated 31 January 2013
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Toyota recalls 1.29 million vehicles for air bags, wipers

TOKYO: Toyota is recalling 907,000 vehicles, mostly Corolla models, around the world for faulty air bags and another 385,000 Lexus IS luxury cars for defective wipers.
Toyota Motor Corp. spokesman Naoto Fuse said yesterday that two crashes were reported in the US related to the air bag problem, but Toyota had not been able to confirm them. Fuse said it was unclear whether anyone had been injured in the two crashes. Toyota has confirmed 18 cases in the US of abrasion-type injuries from the air bag problem, he said.
Initially, the Japanese automaker had said there were no accidents related to either problem. In total, it received 46 reports of problems involving the air bags from North America, and one from Japan, and 25 reports of problems related to the windshield wipers.
Some 752,000 Corolla and Corolla Matrix cars in the US and thousands of similar vehicles in Japan, Mexico and Canada that were manufactured between December 2001 and May 2004 are being recalled for air bags that can improperly inflate. Some 141,000 vehicles in Canada are part of that recall, according to Toyota.
The air bags inadvertently inflate when the vehicle's electronic signals damage a chip in the part that controls the air bags, Fuse said. Under the recall, the part will be corrected to be able to block such signals, he said.
The problem wipers, which can get stuck if there is heavy snowfall, affect three kinds of Lexus IS models, manufactured from May 2005 to October 2011, including 270,000 vehicles in the US and nearly 17,000 vehicles in Canada. The recall also affects the Lexus IS sold in Europe, the Middle East and China, Toyota said.
Toyota's reputation for top quality was undermined in the past few years by massive recalls for a spate of problems, including bad brakes, gas pedals and floor mats, mostly in the US.
Executives have repeatedly promised to beef up quality controls and be quicker with recalls to repair Toyota's image.
Toyota's production was hit by the quake and tsunami in northeastern Japan in 2011, where key suppliers were located, but it has since recovered, seeing sales grow not only in the US but also in Asia.
Earlier this week, Toyota released its tally for global vehicle sales last year at a record 9.748 million vehicles, regaining its spot as the world's No. 1 automaker from US rival General Motors Co.
Toyota has announced some recalls in recent months, but they have been relatively minor, such as floor mats, and generally affect vehicles manufactured before its latest efforts to regain sterling quality.
Last month, Toyota agreed to pay more than $ 1 billion in the US to settle lawsuits where vehicle owners said the value of their cars and SUVs plummeted after the company recalled millions of vehicles because of sudden-acceleration issues.
Executives say they are not admitting fault. But they acknowledge the company is eager to put the recall crisis behind it, and move ahead with sales growth in Asian nations as well as the US.


Hyundai teams up with VW’s Audi to boost hydrogen cars

Updated 4 min 7 sec ago
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Hyundai teams up with VW’s Audi to boost hydrogen cars

LONDON: Hyundai agreed a deal with Audi on Wednesday to collaborate on hydrogen car technology, hoping to boost an energy segment that has lagged behind battery electric vehicles.
The South Korean firm wants to increase the uptake of hydrogen cars, which are propelled by electricity generated by fuel cells but have been held back by a lack of infrastructure and the push for battery electric vehicles by the likes of Tesla.
The pair will be able to access each other’s intellectual property and share components, including any new parts developed by Audi, which is responsible for hydrogen fuel cell technology in the Volkswagen Group, the world’s biggest car seller.
Hyundai hopes that the move will create greater demand for vehicles such as its ix35 model and bring down costs to make the technology profitable.
“We want to provide to our component suppliers more chance and we want to have competition between component suppliers,” Sae Hoon Kim, the head of Hyundai’s R&D fuel cell group, told Reuters in an interview in London.
“We also want to make them to have competition with other suppliers, and that competition will bring down the cost.”
Carmakers such as Toyota have touted the benefits of hydrogen vehicles, which take less time to refuel than the recharge times of battery electric cars, but are expensive and suffer from a lack of refueling stations.
Many carmakers are focusing on battery electric vehicles, which can take between half an hour and half a day to recharge, but are increasingly able to use a growing network of charging points.
Auto firms are teaming up to share the cost of developing greener technologies to replace combustion engines as regulators around the world crack down on emissions. GM and Honda have a partnership to jointly develop electric vehicles with hydrogen fuel cells that are expected to go on sale in 2020, while BMW is working with Toyota.
Kim said that a toughening of European Union carbon emission limits in 2025 would create a need for more hydrogen cars.
Hyundai sold 200 such models last year and expects to sell thousands this year, but Kim said profitability was still far off.
“100,000 or 300,000 vehicles per year per company, when that comes, I think we can make money,” he said.